Kidney stones have a sharp texture that’s similar to crystalline,1 and can be as small as a grain of sand or grow to the size of a pearl or even a golf ball.2
Early symptoms of kidney stones won’t occur until the stones move within your kidney or pass into the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder).3 You may feel intense pain when kidney stones pass through your urinary tract.
Kidney stone pain is often located on one side of the back or on the lower abdomen.4 However, discomfort may vary either in location or degree, especially when the stone/s move through the urinary tract. These are the common signs of kidney stones:5
✓ Severe pain in the side and back and below the ribs
✓ Pain spreading to the lower abdomen and groin
✓ Pain arising in waves and fluctuating in intensity
✓ Pain while urinating
✓ Pink, red, brown or cloudy or foul-smelling urine
✓ Nausea and vomiting
✓ Constant need to urinate
✓ Urinating more than usual, or in just small amounts
✓ Fever and chills (if an infection is present)
You should consult a physician should these indicators appear, but most especially if these severe signs of kidney stones in men and women occur:6
• Severe pain that prevents the patient from sitting still
• Pain accompanied with nausea and vomiting or fever and chills
• Presence of blood in the urine
• Difficulty in passing urine
Tests That Diagnose Kidney Stones
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are four diagnostic methods to help you know and check if you have kidney stones:7
• Blood testing: This examines if the blood contains too much calcium or uric acid. Results help monitor kidney health and can prompt your doctor to check for other medical conditions.
• Urine testing: A 24-hour urine collection test will determine if you’re releasing too many stone-forming minerals or too little stone-preventing substances. A physician may request the patient do two urine collections in two days.
• Imaging: Imaging tests to check kidney stones that may be lodged in the urinary tract are:
◦ Abdominal X-rays (although these can miss small kidney stones)
◦ High-speed or dual energy computerized tomography (CT)
◦ Non-invasive test
◦ Intravenous urography wherein dye is injected into an arm vein, and as the dye moves through the kidneys and bladder, X-rays (intravenous pyelogram) or CT images (CT urogram) might be produced
• Analysis of passed stones: Patients will urinate through a strainer to catch kidney stones. The stones will be analyzed in a laboratory to determine their composition, and the results will help determine the cause of these stones and make treatment protocols.